The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed motorcycle-rickshaws — popularly known as Qingqi — to ply on roads across the country provided they were produced by manufacturers approved by the government.
A two-judge bench of the court headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed that had taken up a case moved by the All Karachi Qingqi Rickshaw Welfare Association made it clear that motorcycle-rickshaws other than those approved by the authorities would not be allowed to be operated in the country.
Earlier, the Sindh High Court had ordered legal action against the Qingqi rickshaws on the grounds that their description did not match those of vehicles as given under Rule 2 (e, f and ff) of the Motor Vehicle Rules, 1969.
About the routes of the rickshaws the court said these would be regulated by the provincial authorities concerned.
Highlighting the poor standards of the public transport system in the country, the judge pointed out that many buses manufactured in the 1950s were still in use in Karachi.
However, the bench urged the government to resolve the matter in such a manner that people, particularly the owners of rickshaws, did not lose their means of income.
During the proceedings, the additional advocate general for Punjab, Razzaq A. Mirza, submitted a report saying the province’s transport department had issued a policy circular which dealt with specifications of the motorcycle rickshaws to be used as public vehicles.
The report said the provincial government had banned the use of rickshaws with two-stroke engines in five cities of the province, namely Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan.
According to the report, motorcycle rickshaws were being registered in Punjab since 2001 and approval had been granted to different companies for manufacturing the rickshaws in accordance with the approved specifications.
So far five products of Messrs Plum Qingqi had been approved as public service vehicles in the province, the report said, adding that some other companies had also requested that their three-wheel and four-stroke products be registered as public vehicles in the province.
The provincial department had taken action against 9,897 rickshaws playing illegally in the province, said the report adding that it had issued fitness certificates and route permits to 8,211 motorcycle rickshaws.
A plan was also being formulated to give adequate time for alteration of the existing motorcycle rickshaws in accordance with the approved specifications, Mr Mirza added.